ROGUE traders and pushy doorstep sellers are being targeted today in a national day of action.
The bid to reduce crime, led by police and trading standards officers, is running jointly with government agencies.
Across the country people are being warned what can happen if they have work carried out by cold callers. Last year, Consumer Direct received more than 13,000 complaints about uninvited traders.
In South Yorkshire, action has focused on criminals’ use of the road network.
Mobile and static ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology has been used to identify offenders and drive them to stop-check sites in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.
Metal thieves, burglars and those who commit vehicle crime have also been taken off the road.
Uniform and plain-clothes officers are targeting ‘hotspot’ areas where intelligence has shown patterns of criminal behaviour. PCSOs support this action by visiting residents, offering crime prevention advice and patrolling ‘No Cold Calling Zones’ across the county.
Operation Liberal, the national police distraction burglary intelligence unit, is leading the action. The unit monitors intelligence on known criminals and organised groups who travel throughout the UK to commit crimes. Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, a spokesman for Operation Liberal said: “Operation Rogue Trader aims to catch offenders and disrupt their activity.
“Those involved in one form of illegal activity do not tend to be law-abiding citizens in other aspects of their life. By involving a range of different agencies, we can seriously disrupt their offending patterns through a range of tactics.
“Rogue traders prey on the most vulnerable in society, conning them out of vast sums of money, which in many cases is their life savings, for unnecessary and overpriced work. When someone falls foul of a rogue trading scam, research shows it has a seriously detrimental effect on a victim’s health and their confiden
Det Chief Insp Sean Middleton, who has lead the operation in South Yorkshire, said: “Door-to-door crime has a massive impact on the lives of local residents and the livelihoods of local businesses and legitimate traders. All too often, it’s elderly or vulnerable people who fall victim to doorstep crime and this can’t be allowed to happen.
“The action you can take is simple and could save a lot of financial and emotional difficulty – if you’re not sure, don’t open the door. You might be wise to this type of offending but we want to make sure that your parents, grandparents and other friends or relatives are wise too”.
Householders are advised to shut and lock the door while they verify if a caller is genuine. And they should beware of attractive price offers or persuasive sales techniques, advise police.
Trading Standards Institute’s chief executive Ron Gainsford said: “Tackling rogue traders is a big priority. Partnership working is an integral part of tackling the scourge of rogue traders – work that is carried out relentlessly by numerous agencies throughout the year. Initiatives like the Rogue Trader Day are an important opportunity to raise awareness and to empower consumers to say no to cold callers.”
People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
Anyone with information that would lead to the arrest of any distraction burglar or rogue trader should contact their local police or call national charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always dial 999 in an emergency.